Summary: There are many sources that we seek approval from, but our greatest desire should be that God approve our actions, attitudes and words.
LIVING A GOD-APPROVED LIFE
We might say trying to win approval from others consumes our lives. We do what our bosses require so that they might approve us and therefore give us our paycheck. Children seek approval from their parents. This means a lot to them and leads to a healthy self-esteem. When very small, children go to great lengths to gain approval from their parents. We live in such a way that we gain approval from the laws of our land and thereby stay out of jail or avoid paying fines for behavior not recognized by society. Churches are not exempt from seeking approval. The pastor must seek approval for certain things he does as well as do individuals in the church. Committees must have the approval of the church on the decisions they make. In school, we approve the grades of students so that they might pass the course or graduate from high school. We often just merely seek approval from others for our actions and attitudes simply because we want to be liked and accepted. We desire unity. Perhaps we want admiration. When our State Convention meets, messengers give their approval to suggested resolutions and people elected to certain positions. If they do not, the resolutions would not pass and the people would not be elected. When we think about it, approving or being approved takes much of our time.
In spite of this, we should desire the approval of God above all others. Our goal and aim in life should be to gain his approval. His is the final approval. His is the approval that counts. Without his approval, we are at risk of eternal separation from him. Without his approval, we cannot have forgiveness.
Paul sought the approval of God. He received it but failed to receive the endorsement of many of his contemporaries. You will remember that the Judaizers hounded his footsteps seeking to undercut his authority as an apostle and to destroy his credentials. They sought sanction from God by obeying the ceremonies and traditions of the Mosaic law now outdated by the work of Christ. They tried diligently to get others to seek approval from God in the same way. In these verses, Paul continues to defend himself against the accusations of the Judaizers. In doing so, he alludes to the way we live a God-approved life.
I. LISTEN FOR GOD TO SPEAK
Before alluding to this matter, Paul tells a little of his background. Paul had little contact with the apostles during the first years after his conversion. It was not until three years after his Damascus Road encounter that he saw any of them, and this was only briefly. He met Peter and James. He later went to Jerusalem for a second time. It was during this second visit that he helped Barnabas take a collection to Jerusalem from the church at Antioch.
For seventeen years, Paul preached the gospel without any human instruction. His message came directly from God. After his first missionary journey, he and Barnabas returned to Antioch. Here they reported of the Gentile conversion. It came by the grace of God through faith. This report upset the Jewish legalists in Judea. They in turn went to Antioch to teach that a Gentile had to become a Jewish proselyte before becoming a Christian.